Naturally Straighten Teeth: Is It Worth It & Does It Work?

Clinical Content Reviewed by Byte Licensed DDS
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Table of Contents

  1. Why Do You Need a Professional’s Help?
  2. Risks of Natural Teeth Straightening
  3. How People Try to Straighten Teeth at Home
  4. Why Don't These Methods Work?
  5. Alternative Options
  6. How to Get Help
  7. Frequently Asked Questions

There is no safe way to naturally straighten your teeth at home alone without the help of a dentist or orthodontist.

Gnawing on sticks, applying rubber bands, or pushing on your teeth with your tongue or your fingers won't improve your smile. These methods can hurt your teeth instead, and sometimes, the damage is permanent. 

Almost 13% of orthodontists have seen a patient that tried do-it-yourself teeth straightening methods. Don't be one of these patients. 

risks of natural teeth straightening

Why Do You Need a Professional’s Help?

Professional orthodontic care involves intense planning. Before treatment begins, you’ll know where your teeth are now, where they should go, and how long it will take you to get there. Every ounce of pressure applied to your teeth stems from that plan.

If you try to straighten your teeth at home, you may have an idea of what you want your smile to look like. But you probably have no idea if your vision of a good smile is actually healthy for your jaws and teeth. You may also have no firm plan about how much pressure to apply and for how long.

Orthodontic problems require a treatment plan, not just the forced, ineffective movement of a tooth. Natural teeth straightening doesn’t work and could cause serious and irreparable damage to your teeth and oral health.

This table can help you understand the risks and benefits of professional care vs. DIY teeth straightening:





Scrapes and abrasions during treatment

Intense treatment planning, professional supervision, appropriate for moderate-to-severe misalignment issues


Potential for long treatment times if you don’t follow the program appropriately

Intense treatment planning, professional supervision, appropriate for mild-to-moderate cases, typically less expensive than braces

DIY Methods

Misaligned teeth, gum irritation, gum pain, worn tooth enamel, infection, tooth loss

Low to no cost, no appointments required

What are the Risks of Naturally Straightening Teeth?

Natural teeth straightening methods are often sold as safe do-it-yourself options for teeth alignment. But your teeth and bite are more sensitive than you may realize. 

Your bite — the way your upper and lower teeth come together — has a huge impact on your oral health as well as on daily activities like eating and talking. Using natural straightening methods can change your bite. This may sound appealing if you’re trying to straighten your teeth. 

But with DIY methods, there is no planning involved and no way to know how your bite will be impacted. These “natural” options could easily make your bite worse and result in problems like tooth abrasion, gum irritation, jaw disorders, and further teeth misalignment. 

These methods may also stretch or strain muscles, cause tooth pain, or even result in infection.

How People Try to Straighten Teeth at Home

Because of the risks involved, there are no recommended ways to straighten teeth naturally. These are some of the unsafe methods people have tried:

Tongue Thrusts

In an effort to shift teeth forward, people push their tongue against their teeth.

Risks of Tongue Thrusting

Not only is tongue thrusting not effective, but it can also cause soreness, teeth shifting, and tongue and gum irritation.

Rubber Bands

With this method, a rubber band is placed around two teeth that have a gap or extra spacing between them. The band, sometimes called a gap band, is supposed to apply pressure to bring the teeth closer together and close the gap.

Risks of Rubber Bands

Rubber bands or gap bands are a popular natural straightening option and perhaps one of the most dangerous. The pressure applied by the bands can cause pain and gum damage, even affecting tooth roots.

The bands can slide up into gum tissue, where they can’t be seen or removed. This is dangerous, as it could cause infection. Tooth loss is also a risk. One person tried this method, and he lost his bands. His teeth started to protrude and push forward. Then, he lost both teeth at the root.

Stick Chewing

Gnawing on a stick (or other firm item) is supposed to put pressure on teeth and help them move into an ideal bite.

Risks of Stick Chewing

Constant chewing will not correct a bad bite. It could, however, put unnecessary strain on the jaw, wear down tooth enamel, and increase the risk of tooth damage.


After finding a tooth out of alignment, one simply pushes it into place with their finger, applying pressure throughout the day.

Risks of Pushing

Pushing on your teeth can cause pain, gum irritation, and soreness. It could even increase your exposure to germs and bacteria due to putting your finger in your mouth repeatedly.

Why Don't These Methods Work?

These natural methods are ineffective (and often harmful) for various reasons.

  • They call for the application of pressure without knowing how teeth will respond to that pressure. For example, even if a rubber band did move a tooth to close a gap, what then happens to the rest of the teeth? They may shift and a gap may be created elsewhere. The bite may then be shifted to create abrasion between two teeth elsewhere. The overall bite may be worse.

  • They use pressure that may cause harm to the gums, teeth, and jaw. For example, if one pushes continuously on a crooked tooth, it may cause movement. Rapid movement that could cause nerve pain, damage gums, trigger inflammation, and cause the rest of teeth to shift into deeper misalignment.

Alternatives to Natural Teeth Straightening

When it comes to teeth straightening, there are two main treatment options: braces and clear aligners.

Braces use brackets that are cemented to the teeth. The brackets are then connected through an archwire that extends over the teeth and is tightened during regular orthodontist visits. This tightening applies pressure that moves teeth into a corrected position.

Clear teeth aligners are custom-made clear trays that fit over teeth. After analyzing where your teeth are currently and where they need to be for an optimal bite, a series of trays is created to progressively shift teeth. Each tray is removable and worn for a week or two before moving on to the next one. After your last tray, teeth will be in alignment.

You may notice that both braces and aligners use pressure to move teeth, as the natural teeth straightening methods do. So, what’s the difference?

With braces and aligners, a treatment is designed specifically to correct your issues. A plan is followed and monitored, and your bite, oral health, and comfort level are taken into consideration.

Some aligners are provided by a dentist or orthodontist, with regular check-ins, similar to braces treatment. At-home aligners offer a more modern approach, with an entirely remote treatment process featuring an at-home impression kit and virtual check-ins.

For those seeking less traditional treatment through natural methods, aligners may be a smart choice. You are still more in control of your treatment, but you get the benefits and care of a doctor-monitored treatment plan.

How to Get Help for Straight Teeth

Now that you know you can’t straighten teeth at home, what can you do instead? Start by talking to your dentist or consulting an at-home aligner company.

During your next routine cleaning appointment, you can explain to your dentist how you’d like to change your smile. Ask questions like the following:

  • Do you agree that I should consider tooth straightening? Why or why not?

  • Are there other aspects of my smile or bite that I should also have addressed?

  • How severe are my bite problems?

  • Will I need preventive care (like getting a tooth pulled) before I can straighten my smile?

Use that conversation to help you understand if you can use at-home aligners (like those we offer at Byte) or if you have severe issues that only braces can address. Then, contact the appropriate dental professional and get started on the smile you always wanted.

Natural Teeth Straightening Frequently Asked Questions

No. There is no safe or "natural" way to straighten your teeth alone. You'll need a dentist or orthodontist to help you.

You can't straighten your teeth without braces or aligners.

It depends. Minor adjustments with aligners could be completed in months, but severe issues treated with braces may need years. Your dental professional should provide you with an estimated treatment time frame before the work begins.

You might. If you’re using aligners, you must take them out while eating and drinking. If you have braces, you must be very careful to avoid sticky foods (like gum) that could harm your brackets. These small sacrifices are worthwhile, as they can lead to the smile you always wanted.

Disclaimer: This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to serve as dental or other professional health advice and is not intended to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any condition or symptom. You should consult a dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.